The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Let's just see how civil I can be.

Mr. Powers over at the South Dakota War College has a new post that challenges my devotion to keeping things civil here. In addition, he has used this post to suggest that a different post that has been a hot topic here and on other blogs around the state, was designed to "test" this blog's devotion to keeping things civil here.

If that is the truth, then it is among the most chickenshit things anyone has ever done to me. I've never done anything to Pat Powers. (Oh my, did I write chickenshit? I meant to write chickenshit.) Note here, folks: I am NOT calling Mr. Powers "that word." I'm saying something he claims to have done was a chickenshit thing to do. Noun vs. adjective. I profoundly apologize to everyone here for the course language. I'm simply unaware of another adjective that adequately describes Mr. Powers' act. Gentle readers, if you know of such an adjective, please share it.

Mr. Powers posted a post that he himself called "incendiary." He claims he did it to prove that there was no decorum on this blog. Huh? Why would he do such a thing to me? What did I ever do to him? He says he was just having a little fun. Well, I haven't had so much fun, since I went to the all-night dentist. Thanks Pat! You really showed me! It sure does seem like a lot of effort to go through just to try to humiliate me.

He says there really wasn't a point in doing it (aside from how fun it was for him) and that he removed all his nasty remarks from my blog (and from his) after his "test" was concluded and he proved that people who visit this blog can be provoked into behaving as he does. He also did so after several people mentioned the "L" word: Libel.

There is speculation out there that Mr. Powers' explanation of the mess he made of reporting on Bob Newland's sentencing yesterday, is a relatively transparent attempt to make an excuse for the potential libel he may or may not have committed.

I have a friend who says the definition of "excuse" is: a thin wisp of a reason, wrapped in a lie.

Me? I suspect it's bullshit.

Sorry folks, sometimes things call for editing the ampersands and asteriks.


Bob Newland said...

PP tosses what we may hope is a final jab in the record-setting (for Decorum Forum) "definition of libel" comment string, on July 6, 2009 11:18 PM.

Sanborn had the misfortune of employing (to loosely use that term) my meager talents (which consist largely of being unemployed at present) to help spark interest in Decorum Forum while he was busy trying to make a living.

What Powers did was what he would have done no matter where I might have entered the business of regularly publishing opinion on the web.

Let's hope he got it out of his system. For my part, I made a mistake in thinking he might actually be interested in a political debate about three years ago. When the inconsistency of his own arguments was exposed, it became quickly obvious that he was interested mainly in promoting himself, and had no compunction about doing so at the expense of afflicted people who can't defend themselves.

When he would no longer engage with me on any topic, I lost interest. Apparently, much of his readership lost interest as well, if one can judge by recent comment traffic at War College.

It is now also obvious that he thinks that not only am I fair game for a rather twisted prank (which skirted illegality narrowly, if it didn't cross the line), but anyone who stands close to me is fair game. I think that folks like that usually get what's coming to them.

Every accusation Powers makes in the comment to which I referred above is either misleading or outright inaccurate. And again, I praise the civility with which Decorum commentors treated a petulant, and obviously nasty, little child.

Regardless of whether he thinks he is the center of the universe, he's not. Attention paid his tantrums will probably continue to reinforce his only, as far as I can tell, reason for existence.

I may be going to jail, but Pat Powers has to deal with being who he is. I'll take being me--in jail--in preference to that.

Carl LaFong said...

PP, chanting something ("no decorum in the forum") don't make it so.

At least these guys operate a forum. You got out of the forum game once you started banning commenters.

Your empty little notes do however expose your inability to rationally support your desire to lock up pot smokers while, at the same time, you champion alcohol use and purport to oppose a Nanny State.

David Newquist said...

I note that the commentary has spawned a discussion about legislating what might be said on the Internet. That is more than a bit absurd, but there are laws that cover the problems. The problem is finding lawyers who can aggressively seek their application. They are the laws that cover defamation and misappropriation of copyrighted material. One of the War College's favorite tactics is the falsification of what is published in covered materials, but the owners of the copyrights find the expense and chance of being awarded damages that would cover their efforts not not likely.

From my experience in publications, Bob Newland would have a strong case. As you have said, finding a lawyer who can prosecute such a case is another matter.

If the presumption of damage of any statement proven false were re-established along with a reasonable scale of damage awards, the Internet would clean itself up immediately. If laws are needed, it is in implementing the right not to be defamed and to provide effective recourse when one's published materials are misrepresented.

Carl LaFong said...


You're ducking the issue.

You oppose laws to madate car seats and to ban smoking as Nanny State laws. You promote the use of certain recreational drugs - alcohol.

Why do you think it's right (Not legal, right. This debate, like the debates about car seats and public smoking, is not about what is or isn't legal. It's about what should or shouldn't be legal.) to punish marijuana users yet reward alcohol users?

You wanted to see Newland punished for his marijuana use. Your desire to see marijuana users punished has nothing to do with what society wants and everything to do with what PP wants.

Why then do you support the legal ban on marijuana? Such a ban is the very definition of a Nanny State law.

Bill Fleming said...

Ok, I'm posting this here as well as on PP's blog just in case he takes it down. Sorry about the typos. I'm not going to fix them.
By my count, Pat took down 10 of the comments he made on the Decorum Forum post yesterday (there were 70 comments total), as well as the letter to judge Delaney he posted here on his own site which I have reinstated on Mike’d blog at the end of the thread. (Yes, unlike Pat’s blog here, the Decorum Forum lets you remove your posts if you have a change of heart, or don’t like what you wrote, or whatever.)

The upshot is, PP seems to have something to hide. Something he doesn’t want on the record.
That pretty much says it all.

In the blog integrity game, it’s a clear Sanborn win.
Pat in the other hand is a self-confessed blog troll.
If nothing else, at least he admitted that himself yesterday.

Hey, it’s a start.

PP said...

This will be cross posted at, just in case I decide to delete all my comments to make myself laugh again.
Bill -

Do mean "blog troll" as you, Newland, Taunia, Carl's Jr, etc, do under my comment sections all the time? Or at least do until I have to put the hammer down, as I've done with Newland and Taunia?

In other words, do as I say, not as I do.

PP said...

And I see my first comment has already been deleted.

Michael Sanborn said...

Nobody's deleting anything you post here Pat.

Bill Fleming said...

Here's how I answered PP's post (above) on his blog.

"I’ve never put something up on your blog that I would try to remove later, Pat. I always use my own name when I post, and I don’t care if you take what I write down for whatever reason you please. I’ve even sent you money from time to time. So, how is that trolling? And why are you being such a turkey about this?"

PP said...

Michael, there is one between Bob and Carl (which Carl references) that is no longer there, and one between David and Carl that has been somehow vaporized.

Carl LaFong said...


The comments I've made challenging you to provide some basis for your desire to see marijuana users locked up are still up and still unanswered by you.

One has to question Munsterman's judgement aligning his campaign with the likes of you.

Anonymous said...

By every objective measure, Powers is losing this fight. It's actually becoming something of an embarrassing spectacle at this point.

Why he continues in this way is a mystery, but it's likely related to the attention-seeking narcissism that Newland was talking about.

But holy cow! What an amazing lack of awareness! What an astonishing display of obliviousness! It might actually pass for satire to those who don't know better.

But for those who do, it's just another day in the life. What you are witnessing here is nothing other than PP, in all his solipsistic glory.

PP said...


In response to your note, Trolling is used in the following context: In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.

Yes, the comments on the decorum forum were deleted to throw everyone who was getting into the bashing a curve ball. (If a person goes to the rare step of registering their name here on my website, they do have a bit more control, and I believe they can delete.) In fact, I think my deletions provoked more anger than my responses did in the first place.

Now, in reference to the definition of trolling, you have to admit that from time to time you might be included in the category of someone posting “someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant, or off-topic messages” in order to get a rise out of someone. That would probably describe 50% or more of the people on my website. The difference is that while you’re not bad about it, some people get downright abusive.

You ask why am I being such a turkey about this? You’re taking things as a whole, when they are two separate issues.

My note to the judge was was an honest thought on how Bob’s time could be productive, and make him a better person. I believe in not just incarceration, but rehabilitation and redemption. If he doesn’t identify the problem with his behavior, and change it, he’s likely to end up back there at some point. Who is served by that? Certainly not the public.

Separate from this is my commenting, deleting them, and commenting again, which really set things aflutter. Was I being a bit of a jerk? Probably. That (the decision to play a little) was done as soon as the insults started flying my way in a forum which is supposed to not be about such exchanges.

I’m going to go out on a limb and consider the act of deleting my comments (which the DF’s system allows) a pretty pale comparison to the abuse that Bob has heaped upon me which usually has consisted of Jr. high level scatological insults, spamming my website, etc.

These were never meant in the spirit of honest and open debate, and I can’t say I can think of anyone who wold consider them as such. They were nothing more than Bob lashing out in a mean-spirited manner.

What has resulted from this? Well, obviously Bob doesn’t like me, and I don’t view him as much more than a petulant man-child who needs an introduction to the rules of society.

I’ll offer this - If Bob would care to apologize for his behavior and refrain from personal attacks, I’m happy to do the same. And I’ll even lift his ban on my website if he’ll promise to keep it reasonably on topic.

In the spirit of the offer, and to make it more meaningful than two kids being shoved together and being forced to get along, I’ll even offer a $50 donation in his name to a charity if he’d be willing to do the same.

I’m sure this isn’t an easy time for him, and obviously emotions are running high. I’m not saying he has to change his views, and I’m not offering to change mine.

But if he wants a truce, I’m extending the olive branch.

Michael Sanborn said...

PP is correct. Two posts he made appear to have vaporized, with no sign of where they went or who may have deleted them.

From my e-mail verification they are:

"Day 2 of no decorum in the forum."

which came after Carl's first post.

and the following, which was between David's and Carl's post:

Carl, you know the answer to that?

Don't do the illegal one. Or change the law.

And if you try to do the latter, there will be people who stand in opposition.

And Bob, I was interested in debate with a couple of caveats. Not every issue was related to medical pot. Only those few posts I did on it.

And when it came to your alternately obscene and scatological comment postings as well as incessant spamming of the comment boards, that's what earned you both a ban, as well as heavy comment moderation once you were allowed to return. (I'm happy to provide examples if Michael needs them).

Otherwise, since you seem concerned, blog traffic is as good as it has ever been, and I should hit my 3 millionth page view before the end of the year.

Carl LaFong said...


It's called debate PP, argument.

People with reasoned views have no problem engaging those, like me, who present reasoned arguments against those views.

Carl LaFong said...

"a petulant man-child" - again with the name-calling.

Is this the tone we can expect from the Munsterman campaign? Yuck.

PP said...

Carl - I'm not asking Bob to agree with my opinion, nor am I going to agree with what he's said.

I'm simply offering a truce.

Carl LaFong said...


You're simply name-calling on the one hand and ducking my reasoned questions and comparisons on the other.

lexrex said...

michael, does your use of curse words fall under the heading of "decorum?" just curious.

Bill Fleming said...

Well that’s kind of a “word salad,” Pat.
But maybe you’re getting somewhere.
Still quite a bit of name calling though.
Sorry if I don’t quite feel the love pouring out of your post yet, PP.

But keep going.

Oh, and maybe lose the $50 matching thing.

Or better yet, send it to Bob’s lawyer to help cover his defense bill.*

Bob’s already contributed quite a bit to his cause, you know?

*Now that would be some serious hatchet burying, don’tcha think?)

PP said...

Bill - the $50 was just a suggestion in the spirit of cooperation. Or at least in the spirit of doing something besides going at each other.

If he can't do it, that's fine.

The main point is that I'm willing to act in a more civil manner towards him, if he's willing to do the same.

Bob Newland said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carl LaFong said...

PP, I'll take your silence on the issues raised as your concession that your support of the laws to jail marijuana users as you promote alcohol use and whine about Nanny State laws is the epitome of hypocrisy.

And, as for you promising to be civil to another if and only if that other is also civil? That's just meaningless.

Do your unwillingness to defend your positions and your low-minded ideals reflect the competency and values of the Munsterman campaign? Yikes!

PP said...

Carl, as I've said before. One is legal, one is illegal.

Don't like it? Change the law. But as you do, there will be others who disagree.

Otherwise, I could give a flying fig what you think.

Bob Newland said...

Okay, I deleted a post I just made in response to Pat Powers' apology and extension of an olive branch. I'll try again.

I already apologized to Powers for my less-than-adult response to his repeated disrespect on his blog. He deleted my apology. So I will apologize again for, specifically, slamming his topic strings with irrelevant comments simply copied and pasted from other topic strings. I did that over two years ago. That was a stupid thing to do and I wish I hadn't done it.

I wrote a satirical piece involving a character that might be taken as PP and involving a Geo. H. W. Bush life-size doll. I apologize (but not very emphatically) for any distress that might have caused him.

That said, the olive branch can go wherever PP wants it to go. I'm not likely to comment on his blog ever again, because the only comments I would be likely to make would be likely to be deleted.

I think it best that I try to stay out of PP's world.

I apologize to Michael Sanborn for the toilet-papering and egging of his blog caused by my presence as a guest moderator. I hope that will cease as a result of my withdrawal from doing battle with PP.

Finally, I do appreciate the fact that Pat apologized to me. There's probably nothing more to be said between us.

Carl LaFong said...


So, you will, by your same "logic" support all other Nanny State laws that are passed? Brilliant!

Anyway, the debate isn't about what's legal. Your fervent desire to see Newland locked up went well beyond what was legal. The debate is about what is right. You believe it's right that you consume and promote one recreational drug as you condemn those who use another, less harmful, recreational drug. That makes you a hypocrite.

At least I do think, whether anyone cares or not.

You, on the other hand, should consider thinking. Because the alternative is not working at all for you.

PP said...

Bob -

I'm offering you the opportunity to post again. If you want to, the door is open. Just let me know by e-mail at the same time in case something is inadvertently moderated.


Michael Sanborn said...


You deserve an answer. I have a high respect for language. And, I try to choose my words carefully. I recognize the use of profanity is almost always a sign of a weak vocabulary.

Sometimes however, a profane or vulgar word is the best word for a specific occasion.

The word I chose to describe Mr. Powers' decision to "test" my conviction to civility here, has few substitutes that are as effective.


They just don't quite do the trick, do they?

I chose to add impact at the end by using a second vulgar word instead of one of its many euphemisms: baloney, bull, nonsense.

It loses its effect if used too often, so don't plan on seeing it here with any regularity.

The answer is no, I don't think my use of profanity fits neatly into the definition of decorum. I don't think it necessarily disqualifies it from being civil in light of the infraction described in this particular case, however.

PP said...

(Lex - don't delete your own comments.)

Carl LaFong said...

(PP - delete your comments)

Anonymous said...

PP's offer of a truce is nothing more than insincere CYA. He's afraid that Bob will sue him, and rightfully so.

And his offer of allowing Bob to post on his blog? Oh, how generous, when Bob is under gag for the next year. Empty, hollow, meaningless.

If you really do "appreciate" this nonsense, as you say Bob, you're a better man than I.

Bob Newland said...

What I will really appreciate is when PP says something of substance. Until then, I will appreciate it if he goes away. We may see each other in court. Wonder If I can get libel-release?

denature said...

Am I right that PP's defense for his self-claimed trolling is that other people do it? Does this work for marijuana use and adultery as well?